FTC Releases 2005 ID Theft Survey Results--in November 2007
Posted on Dec 16, 2007 by Tom Fragala
The FTC recently released the results of their well-known survey and study on identity theft. For 2005. The big number everyone looks at, total victims, is 8.3 million. Of course, interpreting that number depends on how you define "identity theft" and the methodology of your study.
The Federal Trade Commission today released a survey showing that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7 percent of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005. Of the victims, 3.2 million, or 1.4 percent of all adults, experienced misuse of their existing credit card accounts; 3.3 million, or 1.5 percent, experienced misuse of non-credit card accounts; and 1.8 million victims, or 0.8 percent, found that new accounts were opened or other frauds were committed using their personal identifying information.
Most companies in the identity theft arena still quote the 10 million victim number the FTC came up with back in 2003, usually saying there are that many victims "annually" as if the number is like the gravitational constant G or something. For those that care, the FTC 2003 survey was for data tabulated between mid-2002 and mid-2003 (see our identity theft facts page for more).
There has been some back and forth quarreling on the FTC results by industry experts. For example, Javelin Strategy has said the FTC study backs up its own data. But Gartner doesn't like the FTC report, telling USA Today that "the numbers are unreliable" and, as quoted in the Javelin blog, suggesting to American Banker that the FTC purposely "sat on this report because they question the accuracy of this information."
Ouch. What do I think about this? I don't care about the surveys that much anymore. I examine the data, but I don't live or die by the numbers. I look at trends mostly. Try to focus on where things are now, at a high level, while trying to understand new threats coming down the road. Consumers still need good protection from identity theft; that isn't going to change any time soon. Privacy protection is more important than ever.
Truston helps people that care about privacy protect themselves from identity theft. We have a unique way of doing so, using online technology that can scale to millions of people at a relatively low cost. And we're using our patent-pending technology platform to build new services that go beyond identity theft, including helping people improve their credit. This platform can be private-labeled and embedded in partner web sites quite easily. Stay tuned.